With more and more hotels entering into the industry, the competition is getting tougher by the day and hotels are struggling to differentiate themselves. Like I mentioned in my previous blogs, there are multiple ways to attract travelers at the dreaming and planning stage. However, once you have managed to attract these travelers, how do you ensure that they choose you over other hotels?
Read on for some tips:
Identify your strengths: I am sure you would have started your hotel with a certain positioning strategy in mind that would help you set yourself apart from the others. Identify your strengths such as the location, nearby attractions, USP; in other terms that one thing that differentiates you from the rest and promote your hotel based on that.
For e.g.: If your hotel is located near a museum, bank upon that when promoting your hotel. Bring out things that will add value to the traveler’s journey. If there are any events happening in your city, tie-up with them to attract travelers.
Identify the key points that make people choose your hotel and run marketing campaigns based on those. Let not price be the only differentiating factor, focus on the service level, ratings, location and images (pictures play a big role in attracting the travelers). In the previous blog, I spoke about giving your travelers an option of Google 360 Hotel View/ Virtual Tours so that they can make fast decisions.
Make your website more than a website: Having a compelling, easy to navigate and engaging website can set you apart from your competitors. Apart from giving out basic details, focus on influencing the travelers through blogs, knowledge articles and useful information. Give them enough reasons to book. Refer to this hotel’s website & blog that has done a good job.
If a good percentage of bookings come from your hotel’s website, use your website to build an emotional connect. A good way of differentiating your hotel would be by building partnerships with local attractions, event operators, sightseeing tours or restaurants and offer your guests add-ons for making a booking with your hotel.
If you have the budget, implement a live chat option on your website which helps in increasing the sales. Google’s research suggests that 52% of travelers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA. With a live chat option, you can tap into such travelers easily. Another interesting survey suggests that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful and 63% are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. (Sources: ATG & eMarketer). So, a live chat would be a good way to target these travelers before your competitors take them away.
Justify your price: When setting a price for your room, you need to justify the traveler’s investment with the kind of services you’re providing. Since the new-age travelers don’t compromise on comfort anymore and are willing to pay a little extra, you have to tell them how their stay can be a fruitful one. Selling your room at a cheap price compared to the others will not be sufficient enough to pull them to your hotel. If you sell your room for $50, instead of just saying ‘book our room at $50’ say ‘here’s what you can expect in $50’. Offer them value for the price they are paying.
Stick to your words: Once you have identified that one thing that differentiates your hotel from the rest; you tell the travelers all about it – why should they stay with you and how you will make their stay a memorable one. Ensure you deliver what you say. If you say that your hotel provides a tablet in the guest room and on arriving, you don’t deliver as said, you are in for negative comments and reviews which can affect the decision of the traveler who has shortlisted your hotel. So think twice before you promise a service.
Remember that you can’t fool your guests anymore as they have access to online channels which they can use to tarnish your hotel’s reputation.
Décor and food: Look and feel are pleasing factors in the hospitality industry. Ambience of the room and other parts of the hotel like lobby, meeting rooms will help you distinguish from other hotels. Is your hotel room well decorated? What special food/drinks do you offer in the restaurants?
Excellently designed interiors will provide a soothing effect to your travelers and make them want to book the hotel.
Packages and deals: Travelers look for various packages and deals while booking their stay. If you offer them a spa package along with the booking or any add-on service for direct booking, it will definitely help in sealing their decision to choose your hotel. Add some value to the packages and use it to differentiate from your competitors.
Online marketing: Being present on search channels and listings is important to set you apart from your competitors, especially if a few of them still don’t have a website. With effective SEO, you can ensure that your hotel’s website will be discoverable by the travelers easily and participating in the local listings will help travelers identify you without going through the OTAs. In short, be present on all the online channels possible like social media, local directories, listings and more.
Attract through social media: Social media is gaining popularity in the hotel industry with majority of hotels hopping on to the social media bandwagon. A recent HT customer engagement and technology study shows that 90% of hotels actively use Facebook and 78% use Twitter to engage with the guests. 63% of Facebook users, 57% of Instagram users and 46% of Twitter users daily visit each site. So, your presence on social media will help you attract more travelers and well-thought social media strategies will help differentiate you from your competitors.
Impress with your service: Focus on the service because new travelers go by the reviews of the existing guests. Your hotel might have the best of amenities, in room facilities, location but if your service is not up to the mark, it will result in guest dissatisfaction. High-end amenities and services don’t count much and it all boils down to providing an exceptional stay. If you look at some of the review media sites, you will see that guests who leave reviews mainly talk about their experience, the way the staff treated them, how different they felt in terms of stay compared to other hotels. Travelers focus more on the experience than the amenities so ensure your hotel staff gives them the best of treatment which can eventually transfer in to word-of-mouth recommendations.
It is crucial that at this stage where the traveler needs to be attracted and acquired by your hotel, you use all mediums to make the most of it. New-age technology can help hoteliers reach out easily to their potential guests. In the upcoming blog, you will read more about how technology can play a role to keep you in the eyes of the travelers and acquire them."9 ways to win over your competitor hotel",